MARK Cooper has branded the standard of refereeing during the 2013/14 season as the worst he has ever seen.

The Swindon Town manager has had to deal with his fair share of controversial decisions over the course of the campaign – including two harsh red cards issued to Nathan Byrne at MK Dons and Crawley Town, the penalty that never was when Craig Alcock hauled down Dany N’Guessan in the early stages of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy area final second leg against Peterborough United at the County Ground and Jay McEveley’s dismissal in the first leg of the same tie.

And it seems as though he’s had enough.

With five games of the season remaining, Cooper, who has been unafraid to voice his dissatisfaction at the displays of matchday officials this term, told the Advertiser: “I will say it’s the worst season I’ve seen for referees, I think it’s been atrocious.

“I think Sam Allardyce is the latest manager to say. You see with the decisions at the weekend. Andy Carroll’s foul on the goalie, the penalty for Liverpool to win, the offside goal for Man City.

“The Southampton manager has worked all week on squeezing up and then they get done with a lad five yards offside because they squeezed up. The linesman - planting potatoes or eating a hotdog, I don’t know - I’m sure will be waving his flag this weekend.

“You don’t want to see them out of the game but how are they going to get better?

“We’re just in a dip or a phase where the standard has dropped and it’s up to the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited, the regulatory body for referees) to sort it out and get them better.

When asked how difficult it is for managers to make their case to referees and their assessors through the media without landing themselves a fine, Cooper said: “I don’t moan, I’m just stating the obvious. The hardest thing is after a game when you know you could get in trouble and get fined by getting personal, which I’ve learnt the hard way.

“As long as you’re honest and don’t get personal you’re fine.”